Category Archives: Plastics

‘Death Sentence’: Reports Call for End to Big Oil’s US Sacrifice Zones

“People’s lives and the environment are being devastated at the hands of big business,” one human rights researcher said.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 1-25-2024 by Common Dreams

Cancer Alley. Photo: Gines A. Sanchez/flickr/CC

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both published reports on Thursday detailing how the fossil fuel industry has harmed the health and environment of communities in Texas and Louisiana, and how state and federal regulators have failed to protect them.

The Amnesty report, The Cost of Doing Business? The Petrochemical Industry’s Toxic Pollution in the USA, focused on the Houston Ship Channel, which has some of the worst air pollution measurements in the U.S. The HRW report, “We’re Dying Here”: The Fight for Life in a Louisiana Fossil Fuel Sacrifice Zone, looked at the state’s Cancer Alley, an 85-mile zone along the Mississippi that reportedly has the highest concentration of fossil fuel and petrochemical plants in the Western Hemisphere.

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‘Welcome News’: EPA Starts Process of Vinyl Chloride Risk Assessment

“This is one of the most important chemical review processes ever undertaken by the EPA,” said one of the agency’s former regional administrators.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 12-14-2023 by Common Dreams

Aerial photo of East Palestine derailment site taken 02-24-23. Twelve rail cars remained on site. Photo:: Governor Mike DeWine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it had begun the process of prioritizing vinyl chloride for evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Vinyl chloride, which is primarily used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, was one of five chemicals the agency earmarked for a risk assessment. The move comes eight months after a disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which included five cars carrying 115,000 gallons of the dangerous chemical.

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Companies Pushing Weak UN Plastics Treaty Dump Millions Into US Elections

“The only way to curb our catastrophic plastic pollution problem is to cut plastic production, but the industry is spending big to block action at every level to protect their profits,” said one campaigner.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-17-2023 by Common Dreams

Hundreds have marched in Nairobi, demanding action against plastic pollution Photo: Emeka Gift Official/X

Major multinational corporations attending negotiations for a global plastics treaty in an effort to weaken the agreement spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and political contributions during the 2022 election cycle, revealed an analysis published Friday by the Center for Biological Diversity.

As Common Dreams reported this week, 143 fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists registered to attend the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) in Nairobi, Kenya, which is scheduled to run through Sunday. That’s more than the combined delegations from 70 nations, and far surpasses the 38 members of a scientists’ coalition participating in the negotiations.

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Day After Texas Fire, Report Reveals US Hazardous Chemical Incidents Occur Almost Daily

“Hazardous facilities must be required to do more to protect workers and communities,” said Coming Clean’s federal policy director.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 11-9-2023 by Common Dreams

The Sound Resource Solutions facility made solvents for glue and paint remover.. Photo: @JamaalBowmanNY/X

A shelter-in-place order has been lifted in two Texas counties after a chemical plant fire on Wednesday, which came on the eve of a report showing just how frequent such incidents are across the United States, particularly at sites tied to the fossil fuel industry.

There have been at least 287 hazardous chemical incidents—including explosions, fires, and toxic releases—this year alone, and over 825 since the beginning of 2021, according to the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters’ online database.

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Thousands Evacuated After Chemical Leak and Massive Fire at ‘Cancer Alley’ Oil Refinery

“Such events are an all-too-common and exceptionally dangerous reality for those living within fossil fuel and petrochemical ‘sacrifice zones,'” observed one researcher.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 8-25-2023 by Common Dreams

A massive plume of smoke—visible from outer space—billows from a burning storage tank at Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville, Louisiana refinery on August 25, 2023. (Photo: Mike Friloux/Facebook)

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for thousands of people living within a two-mile radius of a Marathon Petroleum refinery in Louisiana’s so-called “Cancer Alley” after a chemical leak and massive fire broke out at a storage tank there on Friday.

The temporary evacuation order, which Marathon Petroleum called “precautionary,” followed a leak of naphtha—a hazardous and highly flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture—and blaze at the refinery in Garyville in St. John the Baptist Parish, located about 45 miles upriver from New Orleans.

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‘This Is the First Step’: Minnesota Passes Most Comprehensive PFAS Ban in the Nation

“This law shows that states are a key part of ensuring that communities are safe from PFAS,” one advocate said.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 5-26-2023 by Common Dreams

Amara Strande, the late frontline anti-PFAS advocate who gave her name to Minnesota’s sweeping ban on forever chemicals, speaks in support of the bill. (Photo: Clean Water Action)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday signed into law the broadest ban on dangerous “forever chemicals” in the nation.

The ban forms part of H.F. 2310—an omnibus environment bill—and is one of the many new policies to come out of what progressives say is a “transformational” legislative session for the state. Minnesota is now the first of any U.S. state to prohibit per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) in menstrual products, dental floss, cleaning supplies, and cooking equipment.

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Eating One Freshwater Fish Equals a Month of Drinking Water With ‘Forever Chemicals’: Study

“The extent that PFAS has contaminated fish is staggering,” said the lead researcher, advocating for “a single health protective fish consumption advisory for freshwater fish across the country.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-17-2023 by Common Dreams

Yet another study on Tuesday raised the alarm about the dangers of “forever chemicals,” revealing that eating just one locally caught freshwater fish in the continental United States can be equivalent to drinking contaminated water for a month.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widely called forever chemicals because they persist in the human body and environment for long periods. Despite public health concerns, the manufactured chemicals have been used in products ranging from firefighting foam and waterproof clothing to nonstick pans and food packaging. Continue reading

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Outlook ‘Grim’ Halfway Through Global Biodiversity Summit, Climate Groups Warn

“If Global North countries don’t compromise, the consequences will be dire,” said Greenpeace. “One million species are at risk of extinction, threatening the web of life that holds our planet together.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 12-15-2022 by Common Dreams

Primary Forest Alliance at COP15 on December 7, 2022. Photo: UN Biodiversity/flickr/CC

Disagreements over financing biodiversity protection, the piracy of natural resources, and commitments to protect at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030 are some of the top sticking points at the United Nations’ global biodiversity summit in Montreal, which is set to wrap up in just four days.

Following a walkout early Wednesday by developing nations outraged over the Global North’s opposition to creating a biodiversity fund, one anonymous negotiator at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) wrote in The Guardian that the summit is at risk of amounting to more of what climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has called “blah blah blah.” Continue reading

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PR firm accused of greenwashing big oil is helping organize COP27

The US agency has a “shameful track record of spreading disinformation” but has been hired by the Egyptian government

By Ben Webster  Published 10-21-2022 by openDemocracy

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, taking place next month in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is being promoted by PR firm Hill+Knowlton, which has been accused of greenwashing | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

The US public relations firm helping Egypt organise COP27 also works for major oil companies and has been accused of greenwashing on their behalf, openDemocracy can reveal.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which has worked for ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco, is managing communications for Egypt’s presidency of the UN climate conference, which will take place next month in Sharm El Sheikh. Continue reading

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More Than 57,000 US Sites Contaminated by Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

The finding comes after a separate analysis showed that companies are exploiting a Trump-era loophole to avoid reporting PFAS pollution.

By Julia Conley  Published 10-12-2022 by Common Dreams

PFAS foam. Photo: Water Online

The authors of a new study showing that tens of thousands of sites across the United States are believed to be contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often called “forever chemicals,” warned that their findings likely vastly underestimate the prevalence of the chemicals, because they’re used in so many products.

Scientists at Northeastern University in Boston led the study, which was published Wednesday in Environmental Science & Technology Letters and identified 57,412 sites where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination is presumed. Continue reading

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